Play and Stay in KK: SPLURGE at Gaya Island Resort Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia


Gaya Island Resort Toronto Seoulcialite Where to Stay Kota Kinabalu Malaysia Sabah Borneo luxury honeymoon

Gaya Island Resort

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

If my short, magical stay in Kota Kinabalu (Malaysian Borneo) taught me anything, it’s that service is of utmost importance, the people are incredibly friendly, they all seem to be amazing singers, and there’s no shortage of things to do!  My first couple of days gave me a deal (Dock In Hostel) and a steal (Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort Kota Kinabalu).  My third night in Sabah was spent at the luxurious Gaya Island Resort.   I have 150 pictures of my 24 hours here to share with you.  I was so busy with meetings and tours I didn’t even get to step foot in the sea nor the pool, but you should!  This property is perfect for responsible eco-tourism, relaxing by the pool, yoga, getting spa treatments, or spending quality time with your lover. If you’re going to Kota Kinabalu, you must stay at least a couple of nights at Gaya Island Resort!

What Dreams Are Made Of: Gaya Island Resort

Staying in a villa at Gaya Island Resort is pretty much every travel blogger’s dream.  Unfortunately I wasn’t there quite long enough to take a breath, but I have ever intention of returning someday soon!  My whole trip to Sabah was jam-packed by the Sabah Tourism Board.  When organizing your stay in Kota Kinabalu, make sure to take some time to enjoy yourself and soak up the sun.  Gaya Island Resort is such a romantic place to stay, but there are TONS of activities, too!  Don’t miss out by spending one night like I did – make sure to book at least 2 or more!

Gaya Island Resort Romantic Villa Kota Kinabalu Malaysia Sabah Tourism Board Getting to Gaya Island Resort Jesselton Port

Getting to Gaya Island Resort

My journey began at Jesselton Port – the ferry dock to get to plenty of wonderful public islands where you can go snorkeling, scuba diving, and hiking.  My trip was a short ride to the private Gaya Island Resort.  After checking in with the staff in their lovely, air-conditioned office, I wandered around the Port eyeing all of the shops, kiosks, and food vendors.

There’s plenty of eat and drink here, just make sure what you order hasn’t been sitting around for too long.  When it was time to depart, all my luggage was already on the boat.  All I had to do was don a life-preserver and hold on!

The Story of Gaya Island Resort

“Tucked amidst protected mangroves, sheltered coral reefs and curled around the pristine sandy coast of Malohom Bay rests Gaya Island Resort.  Set on an island within the protected Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, discover a sanctuary nestled in the hillside of an ancient rainforest with a stunning outline of Mount Kinabalu on the horizon.” Gaya Island Resort

Gaya Island Resort is pretty huge!  Upon my arrival I got a quick peek around some of the grounds and then went for a tour of the spa.  I got to enjoy some gorgeous views, but I was really disappointed that my stay was so short.  The resort prides itself on being ecologically-sustainable and aware of its carbon footprint.  There are a few motorized vehicles for staff, but beyond that it’s a walking resort.

The Spa at Gaya Island Resort

“Spa Village Gaya Island is a tranquil hideaway surrounded by distinctive island flora and fauna. From the warm clear waters of Gaya and its rich lowland forests to the high altitude blossoms of Mount Kinabalu, our treatments utilise only the finest fresh local ingredients. A rich tapestry of spa programmes reflects the cultural healing traditions of Sabah’s many indigenous people. From the specialised rice scrubs and masques of the Kadazandusun to the age-old practices of the Bajau sea nomads, Spa Village Gaya Island is uniquely rooted in ancient tradition while seeking to restore balance to the body and soul.” – Spa Village Gaya Island Resort

Proboscis Monkey at Gaya Island

The sense of tranquility at the spa was instantaneous!  They have plenty of different treatments for couples and his and hers alike.  The spa is where they have all their yoga.  It’s done in a studio with different risers so that everyone can see the instructor.  Wouldn’t it be amazing to do your yoga teacher training in such an oasis?  The spa is where you might catch a glimpse of the resident proboscis monkey, too.  I didn’t get to see him, but I did go home with a sweet plush toy imitation!

Gaya Island Resort Marine Centre

After my tour around the spa I definitely wanted to indulge in some treatments, but the tour continued over to the private beach!  This is where the Marine Centre is located.  It “advocates 3 key conservation themes – Turtle Rescue, Coral Reef Restoration and Conservation Through Education. [The] resident marine biologist and dedicated team work together with equally passionate partners, championing initiatives to protect marine life, raise awareness for sustainable seafood choices and aim for pollution-free waters.” The Marine Centre is where I learned about the resort’s efforts to clean up the water and rehabilitate wildlife.  Sometimes those efforts aren’t successful, others the sea life is housed in the centre, and the team gets really excited when they’re able to release back into the marine environment.

Guided Nature Walks and Jungle Treks

Make sure to go visit Justin, the Gaya Naturalist, throughout your visit.  He’s a wealth of knowledge and is so passionate about animals!  “Discover an exceptional botanic reserve, diverse wildlife and a rare, undisturbed mixed dipterocarp forest, found only within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. Our nature walks offer an environmental education voyage with our Resident Naturalist.  Limited guests are allowed daily to minimise human impact to the wildlife and their habitat.”

In the afternoon I got to learn all about how the team rehabilitates injured owls, snakes, and even monkeys from the island.  We took a look at a pregnant viper they were keeping safe from predators in the jungle.  I also learned about how humans can prey on elements of the island.  It’s amazing the number of animals and plants certain cultures will steal and murder all in the name of “strength and vitality”.  I’m pretty sure ingesting pangolin is not going to make your boner any harder.

Sabah Sunset Cruise

Sabahan sunsets are famous across Malaysia.  I got to meet a couple from Seoul on the ride, but it was really just the 3 of us and our Captain.  My Korean’s pretty bad, but we managed to communicate for a bit.  Unfortunately, the lady was very seasick.  Take this trip if you’re okay on motorboats, but steer clear if the slightest wobble makes you ill.  If you want to catch an unobstructed view of a gorgeous sunset,  take the Gaya Island Sunset Cruise.  If you’re going with a group, see if it’s possible to bring some music and refreshments. It’s lovely to look out where the sky meets the sea, but it’s a little lonesome for over an hour!

My Villa at Gaya Island Resort

My villa at the resort was tucked away up the hill.  At night, sweet little geckos skittled up and down the wall outside.  The bed was huge and had views of the jungle – until the screens went down to ensure a long, leisurely, lie-in.  The Sabah Tourism Board had arranged so many meetings and events for me in such a short stay.  My nap and early night’s sleep were necessary to keep adventuring around Kota Kinabalu!

I had a long, relaxing bath in my massive tub.  I really enjoyed the plethora of delicious-smelling Mangosteen bubble bath, salts, and lotions!  The villas at Gaya Island Resort truly make for the perfect romantic getaway.  If you’re traveling to Malaysian Borneo with that special someone, make it a vacation to remember at Gaya Island Resort.

Gaya Island Resort Contact Details

ADDRESS Gaya Island Resort, Just Explore
Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal
88000 Kota Kinabalu
TELEPHONE +60 88 210 342

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